In posts below, Alex McClure and this writer each presented our outlook for the Senate in 2008 and beyond. Read them both, if you haven't already. The short version is: we aren't taking back the Senate next time, and probably not in 2010, either.
Some Republicans have declared that, with the Democrats winning so many Republican seats, we will retake the House in 2008. Hugh Hewitt, for example. Not so fast. Many of these districts were marginally Republican - easy enough to hold with strong incumbents, but not so easy to take back from a Democrat who doesn't shoot himself in the foot. Scott Elliott of Election Projection has the seat-by-seat breakdown, and it isn't pretty. If we sweep all the GOP-leaning districts AND the likely tossups, we will still fall short.
We should take a moment to thank those most responsible: Republicans and conservatives who stayed home or - gag - voted libertarian to "send them a message," and those who were just too dispirited - sniff - to be able to - sob - go to the polls and vote. For the first time since 1990, Democratic turnout exceeded the Republican effort. That, in the end, was the difference in the close races.
So, just what "message" did those Republican voters "send" by staying home? That they are dumb enough to think a Democratic House and Senate will spend LESS, do a better job managing Iraq, come up with a better immigration policy, be more dedicated to the fight against terrorism? Puh-leeze! But enough of that - I'll be beating you dimwitted "message-senders" about the head and shoulders from now on over this, but now is not the time. To the "dispirited" non-voters, I wish I could offer you hugs and comfort, but what you really needed was a kick in the pants on Tuesday. Cry me a river.
SO, THEN - just how can we go about retaking the House? It will be a long and difficult process if we rely upon demographics and "natural tendencies" to do it. Maybe after the 2010 reapportionment . . . BUT, in American politics things don't always - or even usually - go by the slow and natural process. Things often get shaken up. Take Tuesday, for example . . .
The only known cure for a "Blue Wave" is a countering "Red Tide." In order to retake the House, and to gain seats in the Senate (given the problems described in the posts below), we have to either hope the Democrats foul everything up completely in a year, or that we get some strong coattails to ride in 2008.
Winning a third consecutive term in the White House for Republicans won't be easy. It's only happened once since WWII - when Bush the Elder followed Reagan's two terms. It will require a candidate with broad bipartisan appeal who can run a "national unity" campaign and rally Republicans, independents, and enough Democrats to flip those borderline House seats back.
At this writing, the potential candidates who might fit that description are McCain, Guiliani, and Romney.
McCain is beloved of the press and independents, but for many conservatives his Campaign Finance Reform Act and "Gang of 14" usurpations of power have made him persona non grata. Nixon observed that Republicans need the conservatives to be elected. Romney faces some suspicion for his Mormon faith but, more importantly, also the daunting task of introducing himself to America. Whether or not he is able to "define himself" to the public remains to be seen.
That leaves Guiliani. He is already well-known and very popular among all segments of the American electorate. While many have long supposed his liberal social positions would alienate the right, that appears not to be the case. Here in South Carolina, where values are held dear and social conservatism rules, conservatives most often mention Rudy as the candidate they would like to see run in '08.
We need someone who can hold us together in the face of disaster and get us to work rebuilding. Rudy is such a leader. I've seen him do it.